GAM CEO to step down, ex-UBS investment head to replace him

ZURICH, Sept 2 Tue Sep 2, 2014 6:04am EDT

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ZURICH, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Swiss money manager GAM Holding said on Tuesday that its chief executive David Solo is to step down and UBS' former investment head will replace him.

Solo joined GAM in 2004 and became chief executive last year. Alexander Friedman, former chief investment officer of UBS' flagship private bank, will take up his new job on Sept. 8.

GAM, which has 119.6 billion Swiss francs ($130 billion) in assets under management, said Solo would assist Friedman and the company's board over the coming months to ease the transition.

The company, formerly owned by UBS and then Julius Baer , has shifted towards more active asset management, pushed partly by slowing demand for funds of funds and banks' desire to manage customer mandates themselves.

"With the fundamental restructuring of the company now completed under David's tenure, the next step in realising our strategy will focus on increasing our recognition and market penetration," GAM Chairman Johannes de Gier said in a statement.

A source familiar with the matter said Solo's dislike of some of the duties that go with leading a publicly-listed company was a factor in his decision to stand down.

The source also said Solo was prepared to remain with GAM for another two to three years, but the company wanted to plan for a smooth transition and moved when a strong candidate became available. Friedman left UBS in June.

Solo did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

GAM shares were down 2.5 percent by 0857 GMT, lagging a 0.4 percent rise in the European financial services index.

One trader said he thought the change in management would not have any impact on the business. But some analysts were concerned over uncertainty created by Solo's sudden departure.

"The departure of David Solo comes as a surprise given that GAM's half-year numbers on Aug. 12 finally showed an acceleration of the business after some difficult quarters," analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank wrote in a note.

Results last month showed GAM's funds under management rose in the first half of the year, boosted by portfolio gains and net inflows, though profits fell.

(1 US dollar = 0.9204 Swiss franc) (Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Additional reporting by Oliver Hirt and Rupert Pretterklieber. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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